A lesson in mistakes
![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/634e2160-9dbf-47e8-aeb8-c0df9af064ae/04a0c03d-f0cb-40eb-8574-373256014cb2Alessoninmistakes.jpg "mistakes") In a world of standardised tests and a culture of ‘one right answer’, how do you teach a pupil with any conviction that mistakes are not only okay, they’re actually fantastic? In 2010, Diana Laufenberg spoke at a TedX event in the US about the significance of experiential learning and the importance of mistakes. The talk was called ‘[How to learn? From mistakes.](https://www.ted.com/talks/diana_laufenberg_3_ways_to_teach?language=en)’ She eloquently argues the point that, “Allowing kids to fail is part of the learning process,” and, “failure is instructional.” She makes a compelling argument, one that most teachers will be well-aware of. In a recent school visit, I witnessed the following, short conversation between teacher (the fantastic Ashley Booth, no less) and pupil: Pupil: “I made a mistake.” Teacher: “Well, what did you learn?” Witnessing this short but significant exchange, I pondered: how can teachers best help pupils learn from their mistakes? Here are just some of the ideas I gathered from fellow educators. 1. Encourage an environment where mistakes are celebrated as learning experiences. Ask pupils to share mistakes and what they learned from them with their peers. You should always model this by sharing your own mistakes with pupils. Don’t bat away your mistakes at the board with a simple, “I was testing you.” Own them. 2. When providing feedback to pupils, it’s important to explain why something is wrong. That is where crucial learning will happen. Ensure you confirm the pupil understands the misconception with questions like, “do you understand why your first answer was incorrect?” 3. Question verbal answers that are incorrect. Questions like, “Why do you think that?” or “How did you come to that answer?” not only helps a teacher understand misconceptions, it can also provide a learning experience for the pupil. Asking these types of questions after both correct and incorrect answers opens up discussion and will encourage deeper learning for all. 4. Allow pupils to edit their answers - written and verbal. Try to avoid just going to another child to answer after an incorrect answer has been provided. Give pupils the space to correct themselves as this will provide them with an opportunity to overcome their mistakes, improving resilience and confidence. 5. You might want to provide pupils with a ‘clue’ before they attempt an answer again. One of the many benefits of pupils learning via Learning by Questions is their ability to try again with personalised feedback that gives them a ‘clue’ as to where they went wrong and short steps to reach the right answer. By working on a tablet, they are also provided with the privacy needed to ‘own’ their mistakes too. Whilst some pupils have the confidence to share their mistakes with the rest of the class, others may not. LbQ can be that safe space that allows them to get answers wrong, have another go and learn from that without it being shared with their peers. You can [register for a free account on LbQ](https://www.lbq.org/TryLbQ#acctPricing) to access 1000s of free resources for KS2 and KS3 pupils in all the core subjects.